Covid-19: Tips for maintaining good mental health during this isolation period
Social distancing and work-from-home requirements due to Covid-19 are likely to create or heighten mental-health concerns for many.
"As we've entered this period of social distancing and stay at home and all that, a lot of people are experiencing the loneliness and anxiety, and depression as well," said licensed therapist Dr. Tania Glenn. "I think that when you're home alone, or you're home alone with just a few people and your social circle is generally a lot bigger than that, then it's just ramped up to that point where I think people are starting to feel that pain."
If you happen to be feeling this way, you're not alone -- and there are a number of things you can do to ensure good mental health during this period of uncertainty. Here are five tips from Dr. Glenn on combating depression and anxiety right now.
1. Use technology to stay in touch
It's not a substitute for in-person interaction, but Dr. Glenn says we're fortunate to live in a day and age in which we're able to connect with family and friends virtually.
"The beautiful thing is we have the technology now. You can Skype or Zoom or FaceTime or call," she said. "While it's not in-person-type interactions, I think banking on those resources and those gifts of technology is the best way to do that. We have to use the technology to be a little creative."
2. Connect with a therapist virtually
Whether you're already seeing a therapist or would like to begin to see one, sessions through virtual means are now an option for many, as previous restrictions for virtual therapy visits have been lifted.
"There are all kinds of TeleHealth options," Dr. Glenn said. "It's not the same as going to see your therapist, but it definitely is a good contact and a good reminder, and you can continue to work on all the goals you were working on before, without the interruption."
3. Get some fresh air
If you're working from home or are simply spending more time at home than usual, Dr. Glenn highly recommends getting some fresh air and exercise to break up the monotony of the day.
"Go outside," she said. "Go get some Vitamin D, turn off the TV, get out of the four walls that you're in, and go outside and enjoy everything that Arizona has to offer."
4. Stick to a routine
While the idea of working from home in pajamas might sound nice, Dr. Glenn says it's not a good thing to do on a regular basis.
"I firmly believe that we should all be implementing really as much structure as we can to be as close to normal as we can," she said. "Get up, take a shower, get dressed, get your kids dressed, do your homeschooling, do your work, have your home office -- all the things that we normally do, if you can somewhat mimic that or create some level of structure similar to that, I think that's the best thing to do. When you get stuck in that mode of channel surfing all day long, your brain is not being stimulated, and it's really bad for your mental health."
5. Remember that this is temporary
Yes, we live in uncertain times right now -- but Dr. Glenn says it's important to remember that there will be an end to these circumstances.
"This is a process we're starting to finish," she said. "I think a lot of us who get overwhelmed need to be reminded that we're in a marathon -- and it definitely is a marathon and not a sprint -- but this is not forever and ever."